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Evolving Parsimonious Networks by Mixing Activation Functions

Abstract · Mar 21, 2017 10:10 ·


Arxiv Abstract

  • Alexander Hagg
  • Maximilian Mensing
  • Alexander Asteroth

Neuroevolution methods evolve the weights of a neural network, and in some cases the topology, but little work has been done to analyze the effect of evolving the activation functions of individual nodes on network size, which is important when training networks with a small number of samples. In this work we extend the neuroevolution algorithm NEAT to evolve the activation function of neurons in addition to the topology and weights of the network. The size and performance of networks produced using NEAT with uniform activation in all nodes, or homogenous networks, is compared to networks which contain a mixture of activation functions, or heterogenous networks. For a number of regression and classification benchmarks it is shown that, (1) qualitatively different activation functions lead to different results in homogeneous networks, (2) the heterogeneous version of NEAT is able to select well performing activation functions, (3) producing heterogeneous networks that are significantly smaller than homogeneous networks.

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